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EU against counterfeiting

The Juridical Commission votes unanimously for the geographical indication of traditional products

The Commission on Legal Affairs of the European Union (JURI) has adopted a new scheme to ensure that the geographical indication of traditional handicraft products is protected in the EU and globally.

With 19 votes in favour, Juri MEPs unanimously adopted a draft negotiating mandate on legislation introducing a geographical indication (GI) protecting the names of local artisanal and industrial products. This mechanism would aim to bridge the gap between different national systems, protecting goods such as natural stones, jewellery, fabrics, lace, cutlery, glass and porcelain both in the European Union and internationally.

Building on the existing regulation that protects locally produced food in the EU, the draft law would establish a procedure for registering GIs and their labelling. Manufacturers' applications would initially be reviewed by national and local authorities, then the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) would decide on registration. MEPs propose that member states unwilling to establish a national registration authority should be able to opt out, so that registration would be covered for them directly by EUIPO.

To make the process smoother, MEPs suggested using electronic applications. They themselves have also proposed that national authorities help the administrations of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with their application and guarantee a lower registration fee for them.

EU countries would be required to designate a competent authority in charge of verifying that a GI has been placed on the market in accordance with the product specifications. MEPs want to ensure that the rules are also effectively applied to goods placed on the electronic market and make it mandatory to set up a proposed digital portal with details of certification bodies accessible to the public.

Following the committee's vote, German MEP Marion Walsmann (EPP) said that, with the new mechanism, the application process will become "simpler" and fees "lower"; furthermore "it will not only help traditional products even from less developed regions to make themselves known, attract tourists and create jobs, but will also make consumers more aware, guaranteeing fair competition for producers, helping them to fight against counterfeit products".

MEPs called for the protection of locally manufactured products as early as 2015. In 2019, they reiterated their call following the EU's accession to the Geneva Act, allowing for international recognition of local non-food products.

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EFA News - European Food Agency